August 3rd, 2007

  • pgdf

Sixties Novels, Part 31

THE PETER PAN BAG, Lee Kingman, Houghton Mifflin, 1970.

We're past the halfway mark now, with 25 more randomly collected books to go, among which is certainly the most oddly packaged item in the series, possibly with contents to match. So stay tuned!

The current book presents a useful datapoint in a process that is still ongoing: the tendency of YA novels to deal with controversial material.

But first, something about the author, who appears, from the best of my researches and the help of fellow data-miner Arthur Lortie, to be still alive at nearly 90 years old.

"(Mary) Lee Kingman was born October 6, 1919, in Reading, Mass. She worked as a writer, editor, textile designer, and printer. She began writing for children when a friend asked her to do some short plays for PLAYS MAGAZINE. These helped her get a job with Houghton Mifflin publishing, where she eventually became children's editor. She gets her background material mostly from her own surroundings, Cape Ann and its history."

Here's a charming nostalgic essay Kingman wrote at the age of eighty.

Now, what about the book? Well, first off it shows how even older folks--Kingman would have been 51 in 1970--got swept up in Sixties issues and tried to be topical. It also rivals the work of Judy Blume for priority in dealing with topical issues in a YA setting.

Perhaps someone might point to an earlier book specifically for youngsters that tackles similar themes?

And one last question: why does nothing else shout "Sixties!" like a beaded headband?